How to Protect Solar Panels from Hail

Written by John Ho on November 5, 2020
How to Protect Solar Panels from Hail 2020

Are you planning to install solar panels on the rooftop of your house? Do you have solar panels already installed but now worrying about a hailstorm? If the answer is yes, you are at the right place to learn about how you can protect your solar panels from hail strikes.

In the rainy season, there are chances of hailstorm based on the history of your area.  Unexpected hailstorms result in significant damage to expensive property like car windows, house windows, and other equipment. Hailstorms are one of the main concerns for people who buy solar panels for their houses or the industry.

Solar panels are durable enough to withstand hailstorms and hail strikes of up to 1.5-inch diameter. After a hailstorm in the Denver area, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) inspected one of its sites, having more than 30,000 solar panels of 2.5 megawatts power. They found only one solar panel damaged due to hail strikes on it. Solar panels are tested for hailstone impact by shooting ice balls of ping-pong size at about 70 miles per hour.

Another reason for not much significant damage is that solar panels are installed at a tilted angle to face the sun. Due to this reason, hailstones do not hit them directly, and the effect of the impact is diminished. For the sake of safety, you can take the precautions given in the next sections.

History of Hailstorms In Your Region

If you live in the region for a couple of years, you can have better insight into the frequency of hailstorms in the area. You may also know the size of the usual hailstones in these hailstorms. If you are new in the installation area, you can consult some of the natives who can better guide you about hailstorms' history. You can also find data about historical events on the internet.

Tilt the Solar Panels at an Angle

Another viable and straightforward option is to install solar panels on the structure made of round pipes. You can attach solar panels to these pipes with clamps. When you hear news or forecast about the hailstorm, unscrew the screws of the poles and rotate the solar panels in the vertical direction. Now, the damage due to hailstorm is minimum. It may take a few minutes if you have standard tools available at your house.

This simple but effective method will make your solar panels entirely out of danger. You can perform the procedure when solar panels are not in huge numbers, and you get a timely forecast.

We install the solar panels naturally at an angle to face the sun for better sunlight capture. This arrangement also minimizes the impact of hailstones. Hailstones hit the solar panels with minimum damage and slip away from the surface.

Use A Thin Layer of Methyl Methacrylate

You can do a coating of methyl methacrylate on the solar panel's surface as it gives extra strength and repels the water splashes. Another way of performing the procedure is to search for methacrylate sheets in the market. It is one of the simplest ways to protect solar panels from any impacts, including hailstorms. It will be best to do it with care to not interfere with the proper functioning of the solar panels.

Be Aware Of The Weather Forecasts

It would be helpful to stay updated with the local weather forecasts for any heavy rainy season, upcoming hailstorm, or the hailstorm in the nearby areas. You can get access to detailed weather reports in a matter of seconds if you have downloaded a reputed weather app on your phone. You should perform a daily check on the weather forecast, especially in the hail season.

During a hailstorm, the damage to your solar panels is minimal compared to yourself, your vehicle, and the house. It is better to remain in shelter during a hailstorm instead of going out to protect your solar panels from hailstones with a temporary method.

Try To Fix The Damage Instead Of Buying A New One

It is not wise to throw the solar panel on minor damages. You can manage to repair it for minor impact damages from hailstones. If the damage is on the frame, they are available in the market, and you can replace it yourself. Before doing any repairs, read the warranty terms for the solar panel damage. Most solar panel brands do not cover the physical damage, but you can get a replacement plan on some fractions of the solar panel's total price.

If you have experience in the repair and maintenance of solar panels, you can do it by yourself. Otherwise, you can hire a professional who can repair the solar panel glass or even the solar cells if a few of them have any damage from a hailstorm.

Keep An Eye On Your Solar Panel Condition

The solar panel frame becomes weaker after years of use or due to severe damage caused by accident. This weak solar panel will not be able to withstand the impact of a hailstorm. It is up to you whether you replace it on time or let it face the hailstorm, and if it gets damaged, then arrange for a replacement. The ordinary life of a solar panel is 20 to 25 years.

Conclusion - How to Protect Solar Panels from Hail

Solar panels are designed to withstand most ordinary hail. Modern solar panels rarely use glass as protection for the solar cells from the environment. The other materials used in place glass are more durable and can withstand impacts without any damage.

It will be better to talk to your insurance company and cover up your solar energy system in the house insurance. It will increase your insurance policy, but you will have peace of mind if your solar panels get damaged by a hailstorm or by any other means.

Some people recommend using 1-inch T304 stainless steel mesh during the peak storm season, but it will reduce the solar panels' power. If you plan to do something similar to the solution, I will suggest you design a temporary solution that can be removed quickly to avoid any power loss.

Article written by John Ho

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